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The speaker makes the following comparisons: eyes to the sun, lips to coral, breasts to snow, hair to wires, cheeks to roses, breath to perfume, voice to music, and walk to the progress of a goddess. Then he concludes that no part of the lady can properly be compared to the object chosen. The negative comparisons are visual, olfactory, auditory, and kinesthetic. Shakespeare is mocking a style of hyperbolic comparison and rheto¬ric popular in his time. The point he makes by puncturing this particular balloon is that a human woman, who “when she walks, treads on the ground,” is, for a real lover of flesh and blood, better than any remote and nonexistent idealization. The images are not insulting because so many of the comparisons are preceded by “if … be … then” and so on, although in current English (but not in Shakespeare’s English) the word reeks carries unfortunate con¬notations. The point is quite the contrary, for the conclusion stresses that the mistress has attributes that are rare. Although there is a good mixture of images in the poem, the poet relies most heavily upon visual images, such as ordinary and un-sunlike eyes, lips unlike red coral, dun rather than white breasts, black wires for hair, and so on. The point made about love poetry is that it usually concerns the speaker’s enthusiasm about a loved one rather than any objective descrip¬tions. The idea is that a relationship built on reality and the recognition of truth is more solid and enduring than one in which the lover pedestalizes the woman (a modern word, but an old situation.
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